What part do the sacraments play in fresh expressions of church?

As in most of our inherited models of church, the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist (or Communion, Lord's Supper, Mass) are seen as central to being part of the universal catholic church. Baptism plays a central role in many fresh expressions and, following Jesus' instructions in Matthew 28, new converts are baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, where a person is made one with Christ and received into the fellowship of the Church. In many denominations, this sacrament of initiation is open to children as well as to adults.

Amongst the many forms of fresh expressions there are a variety of approaches to the celebration of Holy Communion. For some that stem from a catholic tradition this sacrament will be central to their worship. For others, the leaders may have discerned that communion is either not yet appropriate, or conversely, just right for the people they seek to reach. Sometimes, this comes as a surprise, as in the case of 'Moot' in Westminster, London. Some will celebrate every week, whilst others offer the sacrament less frequently.

Video story: Moot

The issue of administration affects the approach of many lay-led fresh expressions, and creative ways of addressing this are a part of many leaders' work. It is important though to be faithful to the tradition of the denomination or stream to which the fresh expression is affiliated, whilst questioning how things have always been done.

The Methodist Church has now created the framework to authorise lay ministers to preside at communion services in cases of 'missional need' - and this permission has been given to some lay fresh expression leaders.

The UP dimension of church

The other important rites, called sacraments by some Christians, of reconciliation, marriage and anointing of the sick are often part of the ministry of fresh expressions. How we have done church in the past is not jettisoned by fresh expressions. It is just that new and creative ways of offering the sacraments are sought as we focus on building God's kingdom amongst people who don't come to church.

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